Sentimental Journey By Paul Kida, The DJ Coach

May 17, 2013 by Paul Kida

Music! It’s what we live for. It’s the mainstay of our profession. It’s what our careers revolve around. Music is really important, but do we realize just how far-reaching the effects of music can be? Do we truly understand the power we wield as DJs? Do we comprehend the lasting impression and influence we can leave with our audience at each and every event? Music is power; and we do well to examine closely the beneficial ways that we can use this mighty tool.

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By definition, music is the art of combining instrumental, and often vocal sounds to produce beauty of form and expressions of emotion. Yes, music can touch the heart and soul of people. Music can make grown men cry. It can make a crowd smile and laugh, and create a joyous and celebratory atmosphere that will make everyone want to get up and dance. The latter effect is what most of us are striving for. That is, a packed dance floor full of happy guests sharing in the festivities of the day. However, we should not overlook the other ways that we can use music to stir various emotions, mentally moving people in the direction we want them to go. Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways music can be used as an emotional stimulant.

Let’s start with dinner music. Generally, if you mention dinner music, people think “boring!” Many look at dinner music the same way they look at so-called “elevator music,” or music to go to sleep by. Hopefully, the music we play during cocktail hour and dinner has the opposite effect! I’m sure that the majority of us choose music that, while mellow, still has some kind of upbeat quality. We can play music that is great for the background, but still allows the guests to have conversations with each other without having to put up with a loud, heavy beat in their ears.

How about some light, upbeat jazz? Old standards and some light rock are also great for background music. One very important thing to do is to look around you at the crowd you are playing for. What is the biggest age group attending? Ask yourself what music they would have been listening to when they were young. Would they have listened to music in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s or ’90s? If you can answer that question accurately, then you can play music that will put most of the crowd in a good mood, by playing music that is familiar to the group. It generally will have a comforting effect on people because it is music that they know, and it brings back good memories. It puts them in a better mental state and gets them ready to party later on.

As dinner progresses, don’t keep the music at the same level of energy. Gradually, play songs that are a little more upbeat and lively. By subtly but progressively increasing the energy, you will be subconsciously creating an atmosphere of fun and anticipation in the audience. If you achieving this effect, as dinner is winding down, you’ll see toes and fingers start tapping, and maybe some folks even mouthing the words to the songs you are playing. You can see that they are ready to get up and start partying.

One word of caution: Do not equate volume with energy. Use the actual music, the songs themselves to create this desired energy. Simply raising the volume usually just annoys people, causing a negative instead of a positive result.

As I said before, music can stir the emotions of people of all ages. When meeting with your clients before their event, you can do more than just help them choose the music for the various segments of the event. You can also help them appreciate the power of the music to make the event successful. Cake cutting, parents’ dances, dedication songs, etc. are all great opportunities to use music to make a grand statement and add special meaning to their day. The different songs that they choose can have great emotional impact and actually create great memories of the day for years to come.

Plus, as you help them choose and they see that you are helping them to create an awesome event, it will build their trust in you as a professional, reinforcing the fact that you have their best interests at heart. Don’t force your opinions on them if they have different ideas than you. Just guide them in the right direction, and help them to understand the impact that music can have on the evening.

Use your knowledge of music wisely. We are dealing not with just a playlist of songs, but an opportunity to use the whole range of emotions (love, humor, celebration, great memories, and just good old fun!). A perceptive disc jockey does not simply play music! He or she creates an emotional journey that will be enjoyed and remembered by all in attendance. Music is a magical tool. Learn how to use it effortlessly. The most important way is to get to know your clients, their friends and family. If you do this, you will be that DJ that stands out above the others.

Please send any comments on this article or suggestions for future articles or questions to

Paul Kida, The DJ Coach, is a founding member of the Colorado Disc Jockey Association. He owns JAMMCATTS DJ Entertainment (www.jammcattsdj. com), and is a regular speaker at Mobile Beat DJ Shows.

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Filed Under: 2013, Event DJ Tips, Mobile DJ Business, Mobile DJ Performance Tips, Playlists, Songs & Music Charts, Sound Engineering for Mobile DJs